Iron deficiency decreases hemolysis in sickle cell anemia

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A woman with homozygous sickle cell disease developed severe iron deficiency due to long-standing uterine bleeding. At this point, the serum lactic dehydrogenase level was normal and the reticulocyte count was only minimally elevated. This suggested that the low red cell hemoglobin concentration that resulted from iron deficiency also decreased Hb S polymerization and lowered the hemolytic rate. Iron replacement led first to a substantially improved hemoglobin concentration with only a minimal increase in the hemolytic rate and secondarily to a modest further improvement in the hemoglobin concentration and a marked increase in the hemolytic rate. The hematologic changes observed in this patient, and those in other iron deficient sickle cell patients reported in the literature, suggest that it may be appropriate to consider the induction of an intermediate iron deficient stage as experimental treatment in adult sickle cell patients.

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